Fifth-place finish in Nova Scotia

Gaels settle for consolation prize at CIS championship tournament after impressive OUA campaign

The Gaels finished 8-3 overall, including an OUA semi-final win over Waterloo.
The Gaels finished 8-3 overall, including an OUA semi-final win over Waterloo.

It was a break-out year for women’s rugby, despite a disappointing grand finale.

After running through competition en route to a close second place in the OUA, their season derailed.

Entering the CIS Women’s Rugby Championship with hopes of a medal, the Gaels were eliminated from medal contention after crumbling in their two round robin games by a combined score of 82-10.

The Gaels managed to find redemption in their nationals trip, defeating the Acadia Axewomen 36-22 to secure fifth place in Antigonish, N.S.

Third-year prop and team captain Claragh Pegg believes there’s silver lining for the young Gaels team.

“I think we just really didn’t know what to expect [at nationals] and with experience in years to come we’ll have more success,” she said.

Despite the disappointing end, there were several highlights to the 2012 campaign.

The Gaels were able to avenge their stinging 5-3 loss to the McMaster Marauders from 2011, which ultimately led to their early elimination in the OUA semi-finals. They defeated the Marauders this season in convincing fashion, winning 32-10.

In the 2012 OUA title game against the Guelph Gryphons, the Gaels were only four points away from completing a legendary upset.

Most promising was the emergence of star rookie centre, Nadia Popov, who was awarded the OUA Rookie of the Year.

“It’s definitely a huge honour when you look back at all the other great athletes who’ve won [this award] in the past,” Popov said. For Gaels head coach Beth Barz, the season brought promise for the years to come.

“I think we can look at the fact that we’ve accomplished quite a bit through the season as a team and as a collective in terms of individual honours as well as some team benchmarks,” she said. While the season is over for now, there is little turn around for the athletes. The team will soon be looking forward to the 2013 campaign.

“We haven’t set team goals for next year, but we’ll certainly be taking a bit of time off for recovery,” Barz said. “Then back to the gym and back to training at the end of November and into December.”

“It’s really hard to all of a sudden finish one season and then look ahead and see another one, but that’s the nature of sports, I guess.”

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